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Are Pets at Risk for Melanoma?

black dog on grass blogPets don’t make visits to the tanning salon or lay out to get some color, so are they at risk for melanoma too?

Dogs and cats are, in fact, susceptible to the disease. However, melanoma typically presents itself in different ways in animals than it does in people. Pet owners often visit the vet because they notice a dark spot on their pet’s skin. While changes like these should certainly be checked out by a veterinarian, skin melanoma is not as common in dogs and cats as other types of the disease. Below are three areas of the body where melanoma is most common in pets:

  • The most common location for canine melanoma is the mouth. Although less common, oral melanoma can also occur in cats. Oral melanomas are typically raised, black masses. Saliva tinged with blood is often the first sign of an oral melanoma. Bad breath can also indicate that a tumor is present. If an oral tumor is found, a biopsy will need to be done. Treatment for oral melanoma in pets might include radiation therapy or surgery.
  • The toenails are another tricky area where melanoma often shows up in dogs, characterized by a broken nail or a swollen toe. If your dog has an unexplained broken nail, it’s time to visit the vet. An x-ray will reveal whether there has been any bone destruction, which is typical of melanoma of the toe.
  • Feline ocular melanoma is yet another difficult form of cancer to recognize. Ocular melanoma looks a lot like a harmless freckle on the iris, but it grows over time. If you ever notice a dark spot on your cat’s eye, immediately consult with a veterinarian. If ocular melanoma is diagnosed, the animal’s eye is sometimes removed to stop the spread of the lethal tumor.
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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Amy Phillips June 24, 2014, 4:33 am

    When he was 18-1/2, my largely white male cat developed a scab on his ear that would not heal. The vet’s initial diagnosis was skin cancer. She removed the ear and a pathology report confirmed her diagnosis. She told me that this type of cancer is very aggressive and fast growing in cats and had I not removed the ear he would have died within 6 months. She said that light-haired cats who spend a lot of time outdoors often develop skin cancer on their ears.

    My one-earred cat, now 20, has kidney disease, but is happy and playful and a wonderful companion.

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